February 24, 2020 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

LGBTQ+ Teens Seek App Friendships

With the new era of a technology-driven world and the rise of online dating, creating genuine connections outside of the virtual world is becoming more difficult. The chance of a romantic comedy-inspired serendipitous meeting of souls at a local coffee shop or grocery store feels slim to none at the best of times. That chance is even slimmer for an LGBTQ+ person who may not know many other people in the community to connect with. A new study, which was first of its kind, proves that many teens who identify as gay and bi use dating apps for connecting with their peers.

The study by Northwestern University collected data from online surveys of 200 gay and bi teens ranging in ages 14-17 who were sexually active and found that over half of them were using apps like Grindr (21+) and Scruff (18+) to meet potential sexual partners and friends. Although sex was a reason for using apps like Grindr, forging friendships with other LGBTQ+ teens their age was also a major factor.

Even with the advantage of being a teenager in school where one is always exposed to others of the same age, the loneliness doesn’t seem to escape them since a study from Northwestern University published in the Journal of Adolescent Health states more than half of sexually active young gay and bi men use dating apps to find not only romantic encounters but also friendship.

The study also shone a light on how the subjects were also likelier to get tested for STIs while using such apps. “The sooner we understand the role these apps play in the lives of gay and bisexual teen guys, the sooner we will be able to tailor sex education and HIV prevention efforts for this population and help them live healthier lives,” said Dr. Kathryn Macapagal, an author of the study, to the Chicago Tribune.

According to popular online dating site eHarmony, it’s not just young gay and bi teens who are taking advantage of apps and sites for meeting people with 20 percent of committed couples in the United States meeting online and an even higher number utilizing the site. Although the days of LGBTQ+ club meetings and other in-person activities meant for socializing aren’t entirely obsolete, the rise of online apps for meeting people has definitely become a major component in people’s lives, young and old alike.

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